Tiny words are huge gift to Scrabble players Foreign language versions of Scrabble assign different point values to letters than U.S. version (AP photos)
Tiny words are huge gift to Scrabble players
Lexile

To Scrabble fanatics, big gifts sometimes come in small packages.

The word "te" as a variant of "ti," is the seventh tone on the musical scale. It is a hardworking little gem among 5,000 words added to "The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary," next week.

The dictionary's last freshening up was a decade ago. Entries in the forthcoming book that include texter, vlog, bromance, hashtag, dubstep and selfie were mere twinkles on the racks of recreational players.

But it's the addition of te and three other two-letter words da, gi and po that has Robin Pollock Daniel excited. Daniel, a clinical psychologist in Toronto, is a champion of the North American Scrabble Players Association. It has a committee that helps Merriam-Webster track down new, playable words of two to eight letters.

"Being able to hook an 'e' underneath 't' means that I can play far more words," explained Daniel, who practices Scrabble two to four hours a day. "Sometimes you play parallel to a word and you're making two-letter words along the way. I call those the amino acids of Scrabble. The more two-letter words we have, the more possibilities a word will fit."

The new words add about 40 pages to the Scrabble-sanctioned dictionary, which already lists more than 100,000 playable words.

To be included in the 36-year-old book this is the fifth edition a word must be found in a standard dictionary, can't require capitalization, can't have hyphens or apostrophes and can't be an abbreviation. Of course, they must be two to eight letters, reflecting the seven tiles players draw plus an eighth already on the board that they can attach a long word to for bonus points.

Merriam-Webster didn't identify all 5,000 new words but released a list of about 30 that include:

Beatbox, buzzkill, chillax, coqui, frenemy, funplex, jockdom, joypad, mixtape, mojito, ponzu, qigong, schmutz, sudoku and yuzu. Geocache was also added, voted into the dictionary by the public during a Facebook contest in May.

"It makes the game more accessible to younger people, which we're always looking for," Daniel said of the update. "All the technology words make it more attractive to them."

Critical thinking challenge: Why do foreign language versions of Scrabble assign different point values to letters than the U.S. version?

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